In what seems like a story ripped straight from the pages of an Isaac Asimov novel, a recently deceased Chinese woman named Du Hong just had her brain cryogenically frozen in hopes that, in the future, the technology to bring her back to life will be created. No joke. Hong, a science fiction author herself, paid upwards of $120k to have her brain sent from China to Scottsdale, Arizona to undergo a freezing procedure at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Her idea is that while modern tech doesn’t allow for the reanimation of her brain today, inevitable advancements in cryonics will one day bring her back to life.
Before passing away last May from pancreatic cancer, the 61-year-old Du decided she wanted to allow her brain to be the subject of experiments after her death. Though it took some time before the team at Alcor actually conducted the procedure, doctors in Beijing prepped Du’s brain after her official time of death on May 30. Despite the Alcor Life Extension Foundation agreeing to freeze Du’s brain, the organization made it clear that it wouldn’t be the one to actually attempt to bring Du back to life in the future.
An accomplished children’s author and science fiction editor, Du Hong discovered cryonics while receiving treatment for her pancreatic cancer. Having penned a cryonics-themed book titled The Three-Body Problem, Du never realized the practice of cryonics could be an actual real life solution. While undergoing treatment, Du discovered Alcor — with the help of her son-in-law, Lu Chen — and was able to determine just how likely it was for her to cryogenically freeze her brain. Frequent visits with members of Alcor aided in her decision to have it sent there upon her death.
“Mother said that whether [cryonics] would be able to find a breakthrough in the next 50 years remained a mystery,” Lu Chen tells People’s Daily Online, “but that she did not mind her remains being used for experiments.”
Now that Du’s brain is officially cryogenically frozen, her family has no choice but to wait idly by while technology plays catch up. Though the popular professional opinion is that bringing someone back to life using cryonics is utterly impossible anytime soon, Du’s family remains pleasantly optimistic. This optimism was displayed by a short social media post by Du’s daughter, Zhang Siyao, shortly after her death, which simply read, “Mum, let’s meet in the future.”